Category Archives: In The News

Walk for Brain Injury

The Brain Injury Association of America-Texas Division will be hosting a Walk for Brain Injury on Saturday, May 2 at Discovery Green in Houston.  The Transitional Learning Center is proud to be a sponsor of the Walk.  This is a wonderful opportunity to show your support for survivors of brain injuries and their families.  If you are interested in attending the walk, please click on the link below for more information:

http://www.texaswalkforbraininjury.com/

TLC will be sending a team led by Music Therapist Amanda Gilbert to show support and to help raise funds for the Brain Injury Association.  If you would like to help Team TLC reach its fundraising goals, please click on the link below.  Every dollar counts!

http://biausa.donorpages.com/WalkHoustonTX15/TEAMTLC/

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

New Big 12 Concussion Policy

The Big 12 Conference, one of the most important conferences in Division I college athletics, has instituted a new concussion policy.  The Big 12 Conference includes college athletics powerhouses such as the University of Texas, the University of Oklahoma and Baylor University.  There are two pieces to the policy which strike as particularly important.  First, the new policy affords university medical staff position to make the sole and incontrovertible decision as to whether or not an injured player should be allowed to return to play while also removing from the teams’ coaches purview any form of employer’s authority over the medical staff.  This allows medical staff to make important medical decisions in an environment absent any fear of retribution from coaches.  Second, it states that any player diagnosed with a concussion cannot return to play or practice the day that that concussion is suffered.  This will hopefully eliminate dangers presented by the previous practice of returning concussed players back into games where they then face risk of suffering a more serious subsequent brain injury.  Remember, concussion is just another word for brain injury.  This truly is a step in the right direction when it comes to the reduction of brain injuries experienced in the world of college athletics and the improved treatment of those injuries suffered.  The link below will take you to the Big 12 press release covering this new concussion policy:

http://www.big12sports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=10410&ATCLID=209895746

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

TLC Success Story: Kody Fields

Kody Fields, a talented and athletic young man from North Texas, was involved in a terrible vehicle collision in 2008.  Through his hard work and with the help of the Transitional Learning Center staff, Kody has been able to attend college.  Kody is truly an inspiration to others.  TLC is proud to have helped him in his journey.  Click on the link below to read his story.

http://www.kcbd.com/story/24776214/spc-student-overcomes-trauma-to-attend-college

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

 

TLC Success Story: Tony Strueby

Since opening in 1982, the Transitional Learning Center has enjoyed many successes with our patients.  Tony Strueby is one of those success stories.   Tony’s traumatic brain injury caused him to suffer significant deficits in speech and mobility which impacted many areas of his life.  With the help of the TLC staff, Tony was able to improve and adapt.  He has done so well that he has returned to working and driving.  Read more about Tony’s journey in this linked story from the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS):
http://www.dars.state.tx.us/news/stories/drs_tony.shtml

 
For those unfamiliar with DARS, it is a Texas state agency which provides funding for treatment and medical devices for Texas residents who have suffered traumatic brain injuries.  DARS has enabled many of our patients to receive treatment who would not otherwise have been able to do so due to a lack of insurance or having insurance that would not fund treatment.  As receiving treatment is vital for post-injury improvement, please click on the link below to see if you or a loved one would qualify for services through DARS:

http://www.dars.state.tx.us/drs/crs.shtml

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

 

Holiday Adjustments-Part 3: Social Interactions and Attention

This is part 3 of a series on holiday adjustments.  As mentioned in parts 1 and 2, deficits suffered in the wake of a brain injury may impact brain injury survivors’ ability to participate in holiday celebrations to the degree that they had in previous years so adjustments may need to be made in order to provide a greater likelihood of those survivors enjoying a successful holiday.  Part 3 will be focusing on issues regarding social interactions and attention during holiday celebrations.

 
Our social skills are at the heart of what it means to be a connected person in our society, and holiday celebrations invariably present what can only be understood as key social situations.  It’s incredibly common for brain injury survivors’ proficiency in employing vital social skills to markedly suffer as they navigate post-injury life.  As a result, holiday celebrations can be tricky for brain injury survivors to negotiate.  In many cases, holiday celebrations are the first time that friends and family members have seen a survivor since his or her injury.  In other cases, holiday celebrations are the first time that friends and family members have seen the survivor since he or she was in the intensive care unit of the hospital since people are most likely to visit in that initial period immediately following an injury.  Often, holiday celebrations present dual areas of stress with which a brain injury survivor must contend.  The survivor is learning how to negotiate life with newly acquired often significant deficits commonly experienced in multiple distinct arenas.  At the same time, survivors must learn to accommodate an increase in the attention afforded them by friends and family as those loved ones understandably seek to spend extra time with survivors as an expression of concern felt.

 
Near death experiences catch our interest and spark our concern.  As such, friends and family often give survivors far more time and attention than they may have at previous holiday celebrations.  After a brain injury, many survivors are surprised to find that they are now the most popular person in the room.  Each family member comes by and asks what happened, how is the survivor doing, how is therapy, etc.  Even if one family member was standing right behind another while that member asked each of these questions, the second family member still may ask the exact same questions as the first.  These queries are generally made with the best of intentions.  Family and friends want to show their concern and caring for their injured loved ones.  However, many survivors find this to be a frustrating and annoying experience.  It is important for survivors to prepare for some version of this experience to occur at the holidays, particularly if many people have not seen a survivor since the initial injury.  And it’s just as important for survivors to remember that such a situation is just a reflection of the caring felt by those around them.  Family and friends are often searching for a way to show their feelings to the survivor.  Preparing a good deflection script can often be helpful (For example: “Thank you for asking about my health.  I appreciate the questions but it seems like that is all I have been talking about lately.  Can we please talk about something else?”)  Family and friends need to remember that constant questions can be stressful.  If the questioning goes well, the questions can be experienced as a friendly interview would.  If it goes poorly, it might start to resemble more a police interrogation.  Loved ones should put effort into talking about other issues as well, such as the Thanksgiving football games or favorite music.  Some survivors and/or their families may find a handy solution in sending an e-mail or some similar communication updating everyone on the latest information and requesting that brain injury questions be kept to a minimum.

 
A more positive aspect of this extra attention is that brain injury survivors may find that they receive more phone calls, cards and gifts at holiday times than in previous years.  Sometimes these come from people who are not very close to the survivor but are more distantly acquainted with the situation, such as a congregant at a family member’s church.  Again, though this may feel slightly strange to the survivor it still represents someone trying to reach out and show that he or she cares.

 
Changes in social skills can create big hurdles for survivors to overcome during social interactions at holidays.  Survivors and their families must keep in mind potential problems due to changes in social skills.  When a survivor has difficulties that impact social skills, it is important that friends and family members at holiday parties are informed of the best ways to interact with that survivor.  For survivors with language difficulties this may include giving extra time for the survivor to speak, having the survivor’s conversation partner slow his or her rate of speech, writing important words down for the survivor, pantomiming words or having the survivor use an augmentative communication device such as an Ipad equipped with a special speech program.  If survivors have problems with impulsivity issues, family and friends may need to pay extra attention to cueing those survivors to slowing down and maintaining the topic of conversation instead of going on tangents.  For survivors that have difficulty with nonverbal skills such as making eye contact or reading social situations accurately, family and friends may need to cue them to utilize proper nonverbal skills such as looking at the conversation partner’s face while speaking.  If a survivor now struggles with a newly intensified propensity to engage in clearly inappropriate behaviors, family and friends may need to cue that survivor in order to aid in avoiding such behaviors (obvious examples being cursing and sexual jokes).  It is important in all cases that family and friends who will be interacting with the survivor be given adequate information to best help the survivor succeed in his or her social interactions.  This information can be shared via e-mail, phone call or simple face-to-face personal discussion.  If a family member or friend is caught unawares in a situation in which a survivor’s social deficits are seeing expression, this can lead to a strain in relations.  For instance if a survivor’s friend does not know that the formerly soft-spoken survivor now needs help to reduce foul language, the foul language may be taken as a personal insult rather than as a function of the injury.
Survivors and their families should also consider the possibility of the survivor faring better in a smaller holiday celebration.  Some survivors find that larger parties lead to more stress, agitation and/or social errors.  Also, the noise and activity of larger parties can become overwhelming for some survivors.  Certain survivors find that young children, with their noise and activity, can be quite problematic.  Further, some survivors would rather have a small celebration, especially in the early stages of recovery when they are not yet sufficiently comfortable with their injury in public.  They may feel embarrassed by their deficits and would rather not have a large number of individuals learn so casually about the depth of their struggles.

 
It is often helpful for survivors, their families and their therapists to try to problem-solve in advance potential pitfalls and to practice skills such as how best to talk to others about an injury experience.
Hopefully, this post provided insight on a few holiday adjustments that can be made to mitigate attention and social interaction issues.

 

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

NFL Settlement Battle

Lawyers representing the vast majority of National Football League retirees seeking legal recourse due to the deleterious effect upon their lives resulting from brain injuries suffered throughout the course of their careers will be in court on Wednesday to argue over the terms of the settlements between the NFL and those former players.  This may be the final settlement between the NFL and the former players, though some players have opted out of the settlement in order to pursue individual lawsuits.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/17/us-nfl-concussions-idUSKCN0J123S20141117

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

NHL Concussion Lawsuit

H0ckey can be a tough sport.  Players routinely receive concussions from checks, falls and fights.  In fact, many great hockey players have had to retire due to concussions suffered over the course of their careers.  Hall of Famers Pat LaFontaine and Scott Stevens are just two of the better known players who have entered into retirement for this reason.  Sports Illustrated has assembled this gallery featuring some of the best known players whose careers have ended due to damage wrought by concussions.

http://www.si.com/nhl/photos/2013/04/17nhl-careers-ended-by-concussions

Of course, concussion is just another name for a brain injury.  Pat LaFontaine has been particularly active in educating others about brain injuries.  Below is a video on Brainline in which he describes the brain injury ordeals he experienced as a direct result of his career in hockey.

http://www.brainline.org/content/multimedia.php?id=898

A number of retired hockey players are following the example provided by former NFL football players and are seeking legal action against the National Hockey League.  These players have accused the NHL of not doing enough to prevent brain injuries, of not sufficiently informing players of the risk of brain injuries and of even encouraging the fights which can lead to these injuries.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nhl/2014/10/20/concussion-lawsuit-vs-nhl-filed-in-federal-court/17638661/

If the NHL lawsuit produces results similar to those seen in the NFL lawsuit, the NHL could stand to lose millions of dollars.

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

 

 

Elections

Voting is a fundamental right for all adult American citizens.  By Federal law, having a disability such as a brain injury does not alter this right in any election.  This includes national, state and local elections.  All election polling locations must be accessible or provide an alternate means for a brain injury survivor to vote.  Moreover, having a brain injury does not stop a survivor from registering to vote if he or she was not registered pre-injury.  For more information, follow this link to the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Now go out and vote!

http://www.ada.gov/ada_voting/ada_voting_ta.htm

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

CARF Certification

The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, also known as CARF, is the primary certification body for brain injury treatment facilities.  CARF assesses the overall quality of rehabilitation facilities both in the United States and Canada.  The Transitional Learning Center recently went through a site evaluation by CARF and was re-certified for 3 years, the longest period for which CARF issues such certifications.   TLC is proud of CARF’s recognition of the excellence of our program!

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org

Featured in the News!

The Galveston Daily News recently did an in-depth story on Transitional Learning Center therapist Lauren Mitchell’s extensive and tireless work in service of successful community integration of patients at TLC and residents of our sister-facility, Tideway.   Lauren has previously written for this blog about  the purpose and design of a community integration experience.

https://tlcrehab.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/community-integration-experience/

Below is a link to the article, which is available to subscribers to the Galveston Daily News:

http://www.galvestondailynews.com/lifestyle/health/article_b94cfaca-3230-11e4-9989-0017a43b2370.html

For those who are not subscribers, here is a photo of the article from the front page of the newspaper.

 

20140903_090119

 

Great job, Lauren!

Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org